It’s Time to Hold Edtech Companies Accountable
Okay, enough is enough. School districts are tired of doing business with edtech companies that produce products that do nothing to improve student outcomes. In the end, schools are left with a depleted edtech budget, and a storage room full of worthless junk. It’s time to hold these edtech companies accountable. Want to know how? Keep reading!
Make sure they provide support
Teachers are excellent learners, but they become frustrated quickly when they can’t figure out technology. Administrators don’t have the time to provide edtech training for their teachers. That’s the edtech companies job. Make sure they offer free ongoing support and PD throughout every phase of the adoption. If its not free, keep looking. The fees that most edtech companies charge for support and PD is astronomical, and if you can’t pay, you will be stuck with products that your students can’t use. Asking about training lets the company know that you want a functional product, not something that will collect dust.
Make sure that the developers of the product are in the educational field or consulted with educators
This question will probably be harder for companies to answer, especially a large company (startups can probably tell you not only what kind of experience the developers have, but tell you where they got their experience). Techies may be great at innovating, but they usually don’t know or don’t understand what kinds of features you need or how they will be used in a classroom. They simply do as they are told, and that usually makes a product that only resembles something that you need. If the developers were in the education field, or work with a lot of people who are in the field, then you are likely to have a product that delivers what you need.
Make sure that that customer service is responsive to issues and defects
One of the worst failings of a company comes in the form of bad or nonexistent customer service. You should always research products before you make a purchase, and that is when you should look into the customer service offered by the provider. Whether or not you find it, check to see if the person making the sale can answer your questions. If the sales representative cannot answer questions about customer service, particularly about responsiveness, that should be a big red flag on the product.
Make sure you understand how the tool is uses
Some products are incredibly nebulous when it comes to figuring out what they are, let alone how to use them. If it is an app, that is relatively easy to understand, but you need to know what platforms it is on. If it is a device, you need to find out if there is a plan that goes with it and if you will need to purchase software or something else to go with it. If it is hardware for a computer, you need to know how to install it and have an idea of how long it will take.
Make sure you don’t have to buy anything else to get the product to work, or to enhance Its potential
Very few products come with just a single component. You need to make sure you know everything that is required to get the product to function as intended, or improve its performance. For example, if you buy an app, is there a supplemental gadget that will enhance the learning process? Does it have an area for students to discuss what they learned? Many products come with additional tools. It is just a matter of asking to find out what else you will get with your purchase (or if another purchase is required).
Make sure the product is scalable and flexible?
If you are thinking about offering the product to a small focus group, then hope to expand it in the future, you want something that is scalable and flexible. Even if you are only planning on using the product in your classroom, there is the possibility that other teachers in your school will want to try it with their students if it proves successful. If the product is scalable and flexible, you will be able to coordinate with others to bring the technology into more classrooms.
Make sure you know how it save student information, and how the data is managed
This is an understandable concern as most of the students are underage. You do not want them to be targeted by marketers and businesses because the students had to register to use the product. You need assurances from the business that this information will be kept private and will be properly secured from hackers. If the sales representative cannot answer this question, it is best not to buy the product.
Make sure that there isn’t something comparable for less or free
This is perhaps a question best asked online where you are more likely to find people who have tried other types of similar products. You can ask in stores and neutral places (like Best Buy) are likely to give you an honest answer to the best of their knowledge. A great company will be honest as well because they understand when their products can be cost prohibitive. If nothing else, you can always ask the company that makes the product to see if they recommend trying something that is comparable in case you want to see what the product is like.
What did we miss?